The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of the valley, RogueValleyMagazine.com
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Jackson County Public Health today is reporting a total of 47 positive Covid-19 cases in the county. Just 7 of those people have had to be hospitalized. The vast majority occurred in people age 30 or older. Josephine County has 19 positive Covid-19 cases.
“This week will continue to bring Southern Oregon sunshine and warm weather,” health officials said.
“This time of the year is when many of us attend or play in sporting events, have family gatherings, and enjoy other outdoor activities. For high school seniors, this time is usually spent hanging out with friends, creating new memories, and participating in other rites of passage as their high school journey comes to an end.”
“Your efforts in physical distancing and following the recommendation to ‘Stay Home. Save Lives.’ is working to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Jackson County and the state of Oregon,” Jackson County continued.
“It remains very important that everyone continues to practice physical distancing when out in public accessing essential services, wear an alternative mask when in public, stay at home whenever possible, wash their hands frequently, avoid hosting or attending in-person social gatherings, and isolate themselves from others when feeling sick. By continuing to use these strategies, we will continue to flatten the curve in our community, and this will benefit everyone in Jackson County.”
The County provided the following guidance for things you can do outdoors:
- If you’re able to maintain physical distancing, enjoy the outdoor areas of your residence.
- Have an outdoor picnic at your residence with the people you live with.
- Have a virtual picnic with friends.
- Get things done at home, such as gardening or washing your car.
- Open doors and windows to get fresh air while remaining inside.
- Enjoy solo physical activities or those with members of your immediate household such as walking, biking, running or rollerblading.
- Wave to your neighbors from a distance. Let them know you’re happy to see them.
When enjoying this beautiful weather, please don’t:
- Participate in group sports
- Hike on crowded trails
- Attend in-person social gatherings
- Go out in public if you are sick
Oregon is in its third week of the “Stay home. Save lives” executive order by Governor Brown. With the warmer days and longer daylight hours, many people are wanting to spend time outside. This can be done while observing social distancing.
RogueValleyMagazine.com reminds you it is important that community members continue to stay home, practice social or physical distancing of six feet, disinfect surfaces, and frequently wash hands.
Around the Southern Oregon region, here are today’s Covid-19 positive cases:
Jackson County 47
Josephine County 19
Klamath County 26
State of Oregon reports 2 new COVID-19 deaths, 50 new COVID-19 cases
COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 55, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 7PM yesterday evening.
Oregon Health Authority also reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 as of 8 a.m. today bringing the state total to 1,633.
The new COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (3), Deschutes (1), Douglas (3), Jefferson (1), Klamath (1), Lane (1), Marion (9), Multnomah (22), Tillamook (1), Washington (5), and Yamhill (2) .
A case previously reported in Columbia County was reclassified to negative based on revised test results, reducing the cumulative statewide total by 1 case. To see more case and county-level data, Oregon Health updates its website once a day: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus.
Oregon’s 54th COVID-19 death is a 71-year-old man in Multnomah County, who tested positive on April 1 and died on April 12 at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 55th COVID-19 death is an 88-year-old woman in Benton County, who tested positive on April 11 and died on April 13 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. She had underlying medical conditions.
Governor Brown finally appeared in front of cameras for the first time in more than a week, yesterday, and held a press conference introducing a framework for reopening the state of Oregon to get public life and business in the state moving soon, while maintaining healthy communities.
The governor stated that in order to begin reopening communities, Oregon must first slow the growth of COVID-19, as well as acquire adequate personal protective equipment to protect health care workers and first responders. Most of what she said didn’t move the needle forward on getting the state moving again, and the press was waiting for the meat of the message which she finally somed up “when these prerequisites are met”:
-“Ramping up COVID-19 testing capacity in every region of Oregon”
– “Developing robust contact tracing systems to track and contain COVID-19 cases”
– “Establishing a quarantine and isolation program for new cases”
So, the initial order of “stay at home” remains in effect. Her final message sent out came in a memo to Oregonians:
“We all want to get back to work and return to normal life as quickly as possible. But the truth is: the best path forward is a cautious one — a path that proceeds gradually, carefully, and incrementally… As we prepare in the months ahead to get Oregon back to work, we must remember the importance of doing so in a smart and deliberate fashion that keeps us moving forward instead of sending us backward“. –Governor Kate Brown
Today, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the rollout of a new online feature for Americans expecting a stimulus payout from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 80 million “Economic Impact Payments” went out to bank accounts this week, the agency said — but others are left wondering when their payment will arrive. Those initial payments went to taxpayers with a bank account already on file with the IRS for direct deposit.
Recipients of Social Security Disability Insurance who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file to receive an Economic Impact Payment. It’s automatic. More information from #IRS at http://www.irs.gov/coronavirus #COVIDreliefIRS
The “Get My Payment” page allows taxpayers to check on the expected arrival date for their funds and update direct deposit information to speed the process along.
“Get My Payment will offer people with a quick and easy way to find the status of their payment and, where possible, provide their bank account information if we don’t already have it,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Our IRS employees have been working non-stop on the Economic Impact Payments to help taxpayers in need. In addition to successfully generating payments to more than 80 million people, IRS teams throughout the country proudly worked long days and weekends to quickly deliver Get My Payment ahead of schedule.”
The IRS said that Get My Payment is updated once every day, usually overnight. The agency is urging Americans to “only use Get My Payment once a day” due to the large number of people checking in.
Here are some tips from the IRS on how to use the site:
How to use Get My Payment
Available only on IRS.gov, the online application is safe and secure to use. Taxpayers only need a few pieces of information to quickly obtain the status of their payment and, where needed, provide their bank account information. Having a copy of their most recent tax return can help speed the process.
For taxpayers to track the status of their payment, this feature will show taxpayers the payment amount, scheduled delivery date by direct deposit or paper check and if a payment hasn’t been scheduled. They will need to enter basic information including:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth, and
- Mailing address used on their tax return.
Taxpayers needing to add their bank account information to speed receipt of their payment will also need to provide the following additional information:
- Their Adjusted Gross Income from their most recent tax return submitted, either 2019 or 2018
- The refund or amount owed from their latest filed tax return
- Bank account type, account and routing numbers
Get My Payment cannot update bank account information after an Economic Impact Payment has been scheduled for delivery. To help protect against potential fraud, the tool also does not allow people to change bank account information already on file with the IRS.
A Spanish version of Get My Payment is expected in a few weeks.
Don’t normally file a tax return? Additional IRS tool helps non-filers
In addition to Get My Payment, Treasury and IRS have a second a new web tool allowing quick registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return.
The Non-filers: Enter Payment Info tool, developed in partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, provides a free and easy option designed for people who don’t have a return filing obligation, including those with too little income to file. The new web tool is available only on IRS.gov, and users should look for Non-filers: Enter Payment Info Here to take them directly to the tool.
Non-filers: Enter Payment Info is designed for people who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019 and who don’t receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.
No action needed by most taxpayers
Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns for 2019 or 2018 will receive the payments automatically. Automatic payments will also go in the near future to those receiving Social Security retirement, or disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits and Railroad Retirement benefits.
State of Oregon Employment Numbers
Oregon’s unemployment rate was 3.3 percent in March, which was the same as in both January and February. The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 3.5 percent in February to 4.4 percent in March, showing the leading edge of job losses related to the pandemic as closures began to take hold around the country.
Oregon’s labor force data for March showed little impact from the spread of the coronavirus, since the March unemployment rate is based on people’s activity during the week that included Sunday, March 8th through Saturday, March 14th.
The monthly unemployment rate is always based on a person’s employment status for the week that includes the 12th of each month. And, in general, if a person works for even a part of the reference week, then they are counted as employed (and thus not counted as unemployed).
By mid-March, these estimates were based on data collected prior to the majority of the COVID-19 impacts in Oregon; therefore, most of the changes to jobs and unemployment counts will be reflected in the release of the April data. In March, there were 69,400 unemployed Oregonians, which remained near the lowest number in more than 40 years.
The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has received updated information related to COVID-19 at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, which includes a change in status for one of its residents.
On April 4, a resident who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 passed away. The Home’s medical director had determined the resident, who had other underlying terminal medical conditions, had recovered from COVID-19. The resident’s recovery had been included in the number of recovered cases that ODVA announced a day prior.
Since that time, public health authorities have classified the resident’s death to be COVID-19 related. This determination brings the total COVID-19 related deaths within the Lebanon Home to four.
The Northwest Credit Union Association reminds you to be smart about your stimulus check, if receiving one. Millions of Americans will receive Economic Impact Payments from the U.S. Government as early as this week.
For eligible consumers, the money will be deposited directly into their accounts at their financial services providers. How can they use that money safely, and in a way that benefits their financial health? Northwest credit unions recommend that consumers:
- Prioritize! Focus on the things that keep a roof over your head, feed the family, and keep the utilities and Internet on. In fact, your local utility companies and communications providers may be waiving some fees to help you at this time.
- Talk. If you or a member of your family has lost a job, contact your credit union. Talk about your financial needs and find out what services are available to help you. As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions are providing options to members such as low-to-no interest emergency loans, and the ability to skip mortgage and car payments for as long as 90 days.
- Save. If you’re getting a stimulus check, try to save a little. Putting away $100 to $200 now will help you when bills come due later in the month or in the coming months.
- Don’t hoard cash. Your money is safer on deposit in your credit union than in your pocket. If your money is lost or stolen it can’t be replaced, but accounts in federally insured credit unions are guaranteed, up to $250,000.
- Protect your money. The scammers know millions of Americans are getting stimulus checks. Be on guard for suspicious emails, texts or phone calls asking for your personal information.
- Pay taxes. The deadline for filing and paying your 2019 taxes has been extended to July 15. Your stimulus check might help to pay that bill.
- Support. Some of your local restaurants are able to stay in business by offering take out food. Use a little bit of your stimulus check to pick up dinner for the family or buy a gift certificate to use when dining rooms are open again.
The first round of stimulus checks is going to more than 50 million consumers who have direct deposit information on file with the Internal Revenue Service or with the Social Security Administration. In the coming months, other consumers may receive hardcopy checks. More information on who is eligible can be found here.
We hope this information will be helpful to you in guiding your audience. If you need subject matter experts on financial services that are available, please contact us.
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission said liquor sales reached record levels for the month of March, in the state.
With restaurants and bars shuttered to patrons looking to have a drink in a social setting, Oregonians turned to their local liquor stores to make up for it home. According to the OLCC, sales at liquor stores reached almost $66 million in distilled spirits during March, the agency said — a nearly 20 percent increase over March for 2019, and the highest of any March on record.
“The upsurge in sales from agent-operated liquor stores is attributed to changes in consumer behavior due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the OLCC said. “Specifically, liquor consumption has shifted from sit-down bars and restaurants to consumers purchasing distilled spirits by-the-bottle for at home consumption.”
Oregon OSHA is “ramping up its enforcement activity” for businesses that remain open without enforcing proper social distancing, the state Department of Consumer & Business Services announced this week.
The escalation includes systematic spot checks to ensure compliance, the agency said.
“The spot checks – which are in addition to more time-intensive, on-site inspections initiated by the division – are intended to confirm whether employers are actually doing what they are telling the division they are doing in response to complaints,” DCBS said.
There have been allegations of failures to heed the state’s various restrictions for coronavirus, including businesses that should be closed or are not following social distancing, the agency continued.
Since March 2, OSHA has received 2,887 complaints related to coronavirus. Most of those came through during the week of March 23 and have since “noticeably tapered off.” The division usually receives just over 2,000 complaints in a given year.
OSHA ‘s enforcement will focus on more recent complaints, those with “specific allegations,” and those that include contact information for the person filing the complaint. The agency said that it can keep personal information confidential upon request.
U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that a Beaverton, Oregon man has been charged for his role in one of the largest tax evasion schemes ever prosecuted in the District of Oregon.
In this multiyear scheme, contracting companies, subcontracting companies, and their employees evaded more than $65 million in employment and income taxes owed to the IRS.
Victor Hugo Lopez-Diaz, 38, was charged by criminal information with one count of conspiring to commit tax evasion and two counts of filing false tax returns.
“Evading the payment of Medicare, Social Security, and income taxes harms every citizen,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “All business owners and their employees must file accurate tax returns with the IRS and pay all taxes required by law. Those who fail to do so will face significant consequences, including criminal prosecution, prison, and monetary penalties.”
“Employers that willfully concoct elaborate schemes to evade paying employment taxes will be held accountable by the Internal Revenue Service,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “This type of fraud does not go unnoticed by our investigators. Fraud of this variety not only impacts honest taxpayers, but significantly impacts honest competitors who follow the rules. Businesses that seek an unfair competitive advantage by cheating the Treasury of payroll taxes will always be a high priority for IRS-Criminal Investigation.”
According to court documents, from at least 2014 through February 2018, Lopez-Diaz and his conspirators are alleged to have successfully evaded their personal and employment tax obligations by cashing approximately $185 million in payroll checks at a co-conspirator’s check cashing business; using the cash to pay construction workers under the table; and filing false corporation, payroll, and individual tax returns.
Lopez-Diaz and some of his co-conspirators established subcontracting companies to facilitate their tax evasion conspiracy. Along with the owners and operators of local contracting companies, they knowingly hired unlicensed work crews, paid them cash under the table, and evaded payroll taxes by not putting the workers on their regular payroll systems.
Individuals, organizations, and projects that have made outstanding contributions to preserving Oregon heritage will receive Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards.
Awards recognize action over and above the call of duty. “The award recipients represent the extraordinary efforts to preserve Oregon’s heritage,” said Beth Dehn, coordinator for the Oregon Heritage Commission. “They also serve as models for others on how to develop new ideas, approaches, and innovations.”
The recipients are:
— Astoria YMCA Restoration Project, for excellence in façade restoration of a nearly abandoned building and honoring the building’s civic roots in reuse.
— Black Butte Cupola Restoration Project, for a collaborative historic preservation effort between Friends of the Metolius and Deschutes National Forest to restore and preserve the 1922 look-out structure.
— Brookside Pioneer Cemetery,* for creating a cemetery preservation plan, documenting conditions, and repairing over 121 headstones to their original upright positions.
— Janice Dilg, scholar, public historian, and history builder who uncovers diverse voices of resistance, particularly related to Oregon’s women’s history.
— David Ellis, for a distinguished 50-year career preserving Oregon’s archaeological, ethnohistoric, and historic resources and encouraging Tribal participation in cultural resources management.
— Eileen Fitzsimons, for dedicated statewide work on heritage projects preserving Oregon’s history, including devotion to historic trails, the Oregon Quilt Project, and local history.
— Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project, a grassroots Federal/State/Local partnership in public archaeology helping to rewrite the role of the Chinese diaspora and Chinese Oregonians in the history of the state.
— Don Peting, founder of PNW Field School and central figure at UO Historic Preservation Program for 40 years who has created a ripple effect through those he has taught.
— Racing for Change- The Eugene Story, a partnership between Oregon Black Pioneers and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History that prioritized community outreach and input to tell a local story about race relations in Eugene.
— Phyllis Zegers, a dedicated volunteer who has researched over 3,360 unclaimed cremated remains in the custody of the Oregon State Hospital and assisted in reuniting approximately 573 urns with family members.
*Sally Donovan Award for Historic Cemetery Preservation
The Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards are a project of Oregon Heritage, part of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. This year’s awards were planned to be presented in conjunction with the Oregon Heritage Conference on April 24, 2020. The event has been canceled in response to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Oregon Heritage is committed to honoring the hard work and accomplishments of the award winners and will announce an award event once it is confirmed.